Sunday, 13 November 2011

a field student of facts, fatsias and falsities

"Size of a honey bee!"; the incantation from Arabian Nights by which, as Field Study's Man in E17, I began another evening ramble or forage. Here from my black box of digital tricks is an image of a mysterious forest encountered not far from Base Camp Beere. The lack of focus is an indication of the density of the forest and the difficulty I had navigating my way through and out of it. The experience was fraught with mortal danger however, as is obvious by this testimony, I lived to tell, or rather, spin the tale. Below is an image of the forest from a more distant hovering vantage. What misidentifications lurked in the darkness of that fig leafed canopy? Ominous vibrations; the buzz, rub and scuttle of mini beasts waiting patiently for the likes of foolhardy lily livered liberal psycho-geographers such as me. Not for Julian Beere, intrepid trespass into the out of bounds bowels, tunnels and tubes of London's underground. Too risque. Would you find Field Study's Man in E17 blagging his way into the viscera of Westfields, east and west, savagely chatting up security guards for the sake of a cutting edge psycho-geographic class critique? No way! I shall commune with the bees and the birds in the parochial paradise garden of E17. In this, the Great Aralian Forest of Walthamstow, (the E17 Aralia) there is the sanctuary of palmately lobed false consciousness - the sense of security to be gleaned from nice plants in nice front gardens in nice neighbourhoods with lots and lots of nice people. Oasis? Mirage? Even estate agents windows here have been sites for poetry to sooth the prospecting brows of weary house and flat hunters. 

By what misidentification might this Garden of Eden 17 become a Poison Garden of E17? Yesterday evening I observed wasps and honeybees clambering about the flowers of this plant. I was surprised to see the wasps. Shouldn't they all, but the queens normally, be dead by the 12th November? The weather has been so mild of late. Being the budding apiarist I decided to check on my identification - the facts and fatsias of this plant. Is it a fig leafed palm, a flowering aralia, Japanese Aralia - Fatsia japonica? What nourishment is to be had for the pollen foragers at this fly through take away? Will they be getting the right balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates (with trace minerals) to maintain a healthy ...... lifestyle? A little further up the road, flies were opting for the junk food choice of discarded but still fleshy fried chicken bones with dog excrement sauce. Yum. 
I have yet to find the nutritional information label for Fatsia japonica or the fig leaved palm - if that it what it is. In my flits and flights between various internet 'flowerings' of information I came across a link to a plant by the name of, 'false castor oil plant'; another name for the fig leaved palm. This is where the garden of plant names takes on something of a toxic character. The (true) castor oil plant is Ricinus communis - a source of the toxin, ricin - allegedly the stuff of sinister and alarming terrorist plots originating in north and east London. I recommend this web site, 'the poison garden' for a wealth of information and links about the truth and falsities of castor oil plants amongst many others.

Last weekend I went to see, 'Can We Talk About This?' - a play by DV8 Physical Theatre. While I was in thrall to the spectacular invention of the dance and acro-balance I squirmed about in my liberal seat as the same dancers orated on the subject or contemporary history of multiculturalism and extremism, in particular Islamic extremism. In my nice world of flowers, birds and bees it was a challenging polemic to endure though one I recommend going to. Was the latter comment one I feel liberally bound to say? 'Can We Talk About This?' deals with the persecution, intimidation and censorship of individual artists, writers, educators and other public figures as a succession of theatrical inquests. The show does not address acts of mass terrorism although they lurked in my mind as part of the culture of fear about what is free speech for some and unacceptable heinous blasphemy for others. I am heading for the allotment in flight from the urban graffiti hornets whose nest I disturbed earlier in the week.      

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